Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Christian representatives had participated in a conference on Tuesday organised by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Pope Francis on Wednesday briefly met a delegation of Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs who participated in a one-day conference in the Vatican, and another group of Buddhist monks from Thailand.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue on Tuesday organised a conference on the theme, “Dharma and Logos – Dialogue and Cooperation in a Complex Age“, in which some 200 representatives of Dharmic religions that originated in India, and Christians participated.
Meeting the representatives of Dharmic religions ahead of his weekly general audience, the Pope expressed satisfaction at the conference they attended, saying “dialogue and cooperation are essential at a time like our own”, marked by tensions, conflicts and violence.
He said one needs to thank God when “religious leaders actively foster a culture of encounter by offering an example of fruitful dialogue and by working together effectively in the service of life, human dignity and the care of creation.”
In a separate meeting, a delegation of Buddhist monks from Thailand gifted him with a copy of their “Sacred Book translated into today’s language by the monks of Wat Pho Temple.” The Pope thanked them for it saying it is a tangible sign of the generosity and friendship that Buddhists and Catholics have shared for many years.
In this regard, Pope Francis recalled the meeting in the Vatican between Pope Paul VI and the Venerable Somdej Phra Wanaratana, whose portrait can be seen at the office of the Pontifical Council.
The Pope urged Buddhists and Catholics continue to come closer, “advance in knowledge of one another and in esteem for their respective spiritual traditions, and offer the world a witness to the values of justice, peace, and the defence of human dignity.”
It was the first conference of this kind to be held in Italy, and was prepared by a series of meetings held over a long period of time with the participation of members of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, of the Italian Hindu Union, the Italian Buddhist Union, the Sikhi Sewa Society, the Institute of Jainist Studies in London and the National Office for Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
The conference was held in a cordial atmosphere and was divided into several phases: the inauguration, four academic sessions and a final act. It was an experience of enrichment and learning.
Encouraged by the positive results of the Conference, the participants affirmed the following by common agreement:
1. They recognised that the very fact of their meeting in a spirit of friendship and respect, was a sign of their common desire to show that dialogue and collaboration are possible in this complex era.
2. They were aware that the search for the peaceful well-being of all is a testimony of their respective religious beliefs and, at the same time, their shared conviction.
3. They agreed that complex issues and serious challenges afflicted the current world.
4. They believed that the spiritual treasures of religious traditions and common human solidarity should help in overcoming the trials of the time.
5. They affirmed that the interreligious conference contributed significantly to deepening mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.
6. They emphasised the importance and need to increase commitment to common dialogue and mutual collaboration, in the spirit of love and truth, while remaining deeply rooted in respective religious traditions to be able to effectively meet the challenges of the time and build a culture of encounter and dialogue.
7. They appealed to religious leaders, academics and followers of religions to build bridges, to join hands with all people of goodwill to help build peace in the world of today and tomorrow.